- By Kevin
- On Jul 4, 2017
- North America
- Travel Tips
1.Waze your way through downtown
San Francisco’s labyrinth of one-way streets and rush hour logjams can be a motorized Sisyphean hell. The Waze traffic app helps you avoid the worst snarls by using crowd-sourced real-time data to map the route with the least traffic. Waze can also direct you to the cheapest gas station along the way (no small thing considering SF gas prices are among the highest in the nation).
2. Park like a boss
Street parking anywhere in this city can be challenging, but around Fisherman’s Wharf and AT&T Park, it’s an Olympic event. If you can find a legal meter, it’s likely to cost you upwards of $5 to $7 an hour—which still beats the $76 expired meter ticket. You can avoid the latter at least using PayByPhone app, which lets you add time to the meter from your cell phone and will also alert you when your time’s expiring. SFpark, run by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority, uses real-time data to help you find open spaces and adjusts meter and garage prices during peak times to help reduce congestion in overused areas.
3. Avoid cable car lines
Riding the cable cars is a San Francisco rite of passage, but standing in line for two hours at the Powell/Market terminus is a total buzzkill. Walk a few blocks up Powell or Hyde Street and you can catch a cable car anywhere along its route, usually with no waiting. Just look for the brown-and-white cable car stop signs. Another tip: Your Clipper Card gives you unlimited monthly rides on buses, streetcars, and cable cars ($68, $23 seniors/youths)—not a bad deal given that a one-way cable car fare is $6.
4. Reserve a smoking-hot table
Reserving a table at an “it” restaurant is practically a competitive sport in San Francisco, with tech-savvy foodies finding new and ingenious ways to rig the odds on OpenTable at places like State Bird Provisions. If you aren’t a programmer from MIT, we offer these practical suggestions: 1) Be flexible—if time is not of the essence, it’s way easier to get in at 5:30pm or after 9pm. 2) Sit at the bar—even perennially packed places like Nopa and Cotogna offer no-reserve seating at the bar. 3) Chance it—hotspots such as Flour + Water and Slanted Door hold a decent percentage of tables for walk-ins. Get there before 6pm and your odds improve even more. 4) Try lunch—a good number of top restaurants, including Zuni Café, Boulevard, and Alta CA—are open for the midday meal, and you often don’t need a reservation.
5. Wait better at Burma Superstar
Burma Superstar, the no-reservations Burmese restaurant in the Richmond District, is as famous for its epic waits as it is for tea leaf salad and pumpkin pork stew. A recently opened spinoff in the Mission District (Burma Love, 211 Valencia St between Clinton Park and Duboce Ave) has hopefully thinned the crowds a bit, but we wouldn’t count on it. The key is to put your name on the list, add your cell number, and the restaurant will call you when a table becomes available. Then walk across the street and grab a pint at the Plough and Stars. We’ve also had luck calling the not-so-secret phone at the host stand (415-350-7117) in advance to get our name on the list.